Tag Archives: Google Maps

Meet the new Google Maps

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If you were at the Google I/O (or weren’t), you are probably aware of the major redesign changes that were launched for Google Maps.  One thing you will quickly notice is the approach that Google has taken to provide a more intuitive interface that takes away the clutter and leaves you with a clean and clear way of exploring neighborhoods and other destinations.

Interestingly, we can also see a future glimpse of where maps may be going. Google has modeled a few cities around the world in 3D letting you enter the third dimension and get a new perspective of the world. This feature is similar to Apple’s “Flyover” function of its own mapping service but Google definitely know how to create buzz for it and deliver a much more intuitive experience.

Improved Search in Maps

Google Maps Screenshot

Of course, the ultimate ability of maps is to be able to search locations and get the exact information you are looking for. Though not quite your Knowledge Graph experience, the new Google Maps takes search a notch higher by letting you get better results when you search for restaurants, hotels, and world attractions. However, that is not the end of it. Google wants a more personalized experience in all of its products that you use, and this includes the new maps. As you use the search feature, Google Maps will be able to learn about your likes, favorites, and destinations, and this information, yes you guessed it, will be used to recommend places and destinations.

Info Cards

Google has added a new feature to help both businesses and you, get the right information to you. When you click on a business, an info card comes up below the search box with the business’ address, directions, web URL, phone number and hours of operation. Rather than having to navigate out of Google Maps to get all this information, you now have everything you need inside the maps interface. Again, the more you use maps to search for businesses, the better the maps become at recommending places and venues with the option of writing reviews.

Images

Google seems to value the use of images in most of its products and Google Maps is one of these tools where images really shine and give you a whole new perspective in search. At the bottom of any location you search, you will see a scrolling menu of images that you can click through to enjoy a photo tour. These images are pulled from Google+, Picasa, and Android phones from owners. Google also contributes its own sets of photos. Google seems to be particularly interested in user-generated photos where it is able to pull up several photos of the same building but during different times of the year and through the eyes of different photographers to give you an amazing photo tour.

Directions in Maps

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We all love to get driving directions when looking at maps. But how about directions when using different transportation options such as public transit, walking, biking or flying? Google now brings this ability to the new Google Maps allowing you to compare the different directions and see which is the quickest and readily available.

Clearly, what Google is doing with maps is very similar to what it has done with search results – personalize our experiences. When you click on search, you are now presented with localized and highly personalized results rather than from results across the globe. Google Maps seem to be taking the same direction.

You can try out the new Maps with the following link: http://maps.google.com/help/maps/helloworld/desktop/preview/

US Election 2010: Use Google to Show You the Closest Voting Location

If you’re in the United States, today is election day.  Whether you’re excited to cast your vote, or relieved the political television ads will be over, you can use Google to show you the closest voting location.

To find voting locations, search Google for where to vote and enter your location in the Find your polling place and voting information box that appears in your search results.  You can also access the voting information page directly, without a Google search.

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If the information is available, Google Maps will show you the closest voting location in you area.

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The sidebar contains a list of useful voter information, including a the candidates for your state and/or city.

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So get out there and vote – or don’t – the power is yours!

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Android App Roundup! SDMove and Google Places

It’s time again for another Android App Roundup! In this edition I’m going to tell you about SDMove, an indispensable application to have installed if you’re running Froyo (Android version 2.2), and Evan will tell you about Google Places, an app you probably already have on your phone but might not have used yet.

We welcome all suggestions for future App Roundups – you can post them below in the comments section, send us an e-mail, or let Evan or me know via Twitter.

Kevin’s Pick: SDMove

One of the most welcome additions in Android 2.2, especially for those of us running phones with a pathetically small amount of internal memory, is the ability to offload applications to the SD Card. This still requires the developer to flip a switch to allow the move, and while some developers were a bit slow to adopt the feature, more and more are starting to realize that this is something people might want to use.

How do you go about moving your hundreds of applications to external storage? By default, the only way is to go through the applications list, click on each individual application, and click the ‘Move to SD Card’ button if it’s not grayed out. Thankfully, one guy noticed this limitation and created a simple, amazingly effective application.

SDMove presents you with a list of all the applications you have installed, color coded based on each application’s SD Card status. Green apps are currently located on external storage, yellow apps aren’t on the SD card but can be moved there, and red apps aren’t allowed to be moved either because the developer has specifically flagged it as unmovable or hasn’t bothered to set a flag at all. There are a few other colors as well, and a full legend can be found in the ‘About’ section of the menu.

It doesn’t pack much flash, but SDMove does what it advertises and can save you a lot of time and frustration. Best of all, it’s completely free (if you don’t mind looking at the usual ads)! If you recently updated to Froyo and want to see what apps you can move, or if you’ve already moved some apps and want to see how much more space you can save, scan the QR code below to be taken directly to SDMove’s Market page.

Evan’s Pick: Google Places (part of the new Google Maps)

This app is an easy recommendation because most of you should have it installed already (as long as you’ve updated to the newest version of the Google Maps app).  If you haven’t updated your Google Maps yet, open the Android Market, press the Settings button, select Downloads, and install it.

If you’ve ever used services like Yelp, Google Places is a direct competitor.  Google has eagerly jumped aboard the location-based service bandwagon, and Places gives you a simple way to quickly find restaurants, bars, hotels, gas stations, and entertainment.

When you open Places, it will automatically grab your GPS location (if you have it enabled), so picking any category or performing a search will show you a list of relevant locations sorted by distance.  A small compass will even show you the direction of the potential destination.  If you don’t see the category you’re looking for, simply perform a search or use the “+ Add” button to create your own category.

Selecting a location will give you details, including reviews, available cuisine, and features like “Quiet atmosphere” or “Wi-fi Hotspot”.  You can click the buttons on the listings page to show it in Google Maps, navigate to the location, or call the business’ number.

I used Google Places this weekend to find a great new sandwich shop for lunch that was only a few miles from me but I didn’t know it existed.  If you do any traveling, I’m sure it will be even more useful.  Google Places is included with Google Maps, and can be found in your Apps drawer.